Research, reading, and zines

Quick notes. I finally put together This Is Important #3 with two short essays, “Debt” by Natalie and “Bloom” by Nabil, and art by Laura. This was such a pleasure! I pictured Bloom years ago as a pocket sized booklet with gorgeous art & so to finally bring it into reality was incredibly satisfying – I mean it + Debt as a way of making space for our emotional and creative responses to the stresses of the economy and pandemic and climate disaster.

I’m reading some detective novels by Leslie Ford ie Zenith Jones Brown and enjoying their unusual style.

As I did a zine, Hyphae, about the geography and history of a particular piece of land for the first DWeb Camp on the Mushroom Farm, I am now planning a second issue about the new DWeb Camp location on the Navarro River in Mendocino. Working title, Tabahtea, though the final title will likely be different. Over the weekend I cast out some research nets, and am trying to absorb and synthesize & read more widely. Some sources, all the websites and wikipedia entries for the various Pomo tribes, rancherias, bands, etc; The Noyo, which I found in PDF form; a strange and wonderfully detailed newsletter called The Roots of Motive Power, highlighting the history of the Albion Lumber Company and Masonite Corporation but mostly highlighting its various wheeled vehicles rather than the original vile land grab; Handbook of American Indians North of Mexico, v2; a book called The Coast Rangers – Studying old maps – the account of Vizcaino’s voyage to Cape Mendocino in 1602 – Things like this.

I am looking for some specific things like “sites of Pomo settlements” to put them on a map, and you can find mention of them in these scattered sources but nowhere brings all that information together. Probably if I go to a local library in the area, I could find a source, but who knows. (This is also oddly hard to find for the SF Bay Area though I started making a map a while back for my game, Transitory.)

(Note: Now I have this PDF from 1908: https://berkeley.app.box.com/v/pomoan-languages-map)

I’d like to know the name origin for the Navarro River but have not yet found it. Also, the name origin for Surrender Creek, which could be horribly related to the genocide of the native americans but could also be related to Lee’s surrender or something entirely different.

Anderson Valley was previously named Long Valley – that helped.

I realized that there was a line where the Spanish missions crept up to in the north, and this is just beyond that line, and right in the zone of a sort of slow motion Spanish/Mexican/US/Russian collision.

Another good bus ride

Last night I had the best bus ride as a 70 year old lady got on dressed very flamboyantly and told me lots of things about her life and her son and his foot being cut off recently from diabetes and she loved my hair and I loved hers and we compared greyness levels, and as we chatted the bus announced “Elizabeth” as we approached that street and she said THATS MY NAME and i said THATS MY NAME TOO and we high fived and then she gave me a big container of very nice weed!!! I can’t smoke it because my lungs and post-Covid but I appreciated the gesture anyway!

Elizabeth L. was born in 1952 at the corner of 19th and Castro ! She just went blind in one eye and has been practicing for it for years by going around her house in the pitch dark! I love her… We said GOOD BYE ELIZABETH to each other as I went down the ramp to go home! “See you on the 24!!!! ELIZABETH!!!!” giggling like fools.

I love being a magnet for this sort of encounter and I love the bus.

I am not so far away from being 70 myself. Time goes faster and faster.

Feeling better

Post-illness report! I’m still taking some extra meds for the lingering asthma/cough/chest pain and I still get tired easily. I can now take the bus across town, go to a thing, and take the bus home. I also am doing regular house cleaning and water the garden. I’m back at work (from home! with short naps). So that’s a huge improvement!

I really enjoyed the Claire DeWitt mystery novels – very modern noir – fabulous protagonist – nicely surreal – I kept highlighting whole paragraphs to save as quotes – Love a book that centers on a fictional book (in this case, Détection by Jacques Sillette, and a zine, Cynthia Silverton Girl Detective). No deep thoughts from me right now, but I loved these books and hope there will be another!

A day in the life of Capp St. Noisebridge

Noisebridge moved into the new space, what, a year ago or so? Something like that. Because of the pandemic, we have been a little slow settling in, and this winter with the rain and Omicron surge, there wasn’t a ton of activity – a solid core of regulars working to get the space organized, the wood shop even more functional, the giant laser cutter in working order, and so on. I spent Friday and Saturday afternoon at the space and thought I’d report on my day today! In case you are worried about my pandemic surge risk taking I will mention everyone at the space is vaccinated and I stayed outside 95% of the time and wore a well fitted n95 mask!

Friday in between work meetings I cleared an enormous load of junk and trash to the front porch, listened to Claus’s vision of what might happen with the space, emailed an electrician for a quote, arranged for trash pickup today and a plumber to come snake the clogged drain. 272 Capp was some sort of auto repair place for a while, with a big concrete driveway and a rollup door you could drive through. The drain in this “front porch” driveway area has been clogged since the move-in, and we’ve gone through a few attempts to lever up its rusty iron grate to no avail.

First off me and TJ chatted with a guy I know I’ve met before, James, who is a science fiction writer, who let me photograph his amazing “battle jacket” covered in patches for punk bands and nerd things, stopped by and talked about his plans for lenticular printing. I gave him some tips on cheap options for rubber rollers (like for printmaking). Wonder if we will see some nifty lenticular print workshops at the space?

james with patch jacket

The trash pickup guys were intrigued and said they might come back another day for a tour and will tell their boss, who would like the idea of a free workshop.

The heroic plumber who showed up today chiselled and hammered the hell out of the grate, got it unstuck, snaked and hosed out the drain several times (absolutely disgusting smelling motor oil storm drain situation! ) The plumber is now a friend of Noisebridge and I think is going to show up to take a welding lesson.

I took on the top half of a plywood laser-cut obelisk that was in the trash pile (rained on all winter) as my project. It is now spray painted with spare cans of paint & I’m going to add hinges to one panel so it becomes a cabinet, slather it in marine varnish, and put a solar LED light inside.

Justin from Technical Underground spent hours building a giant planter box for the front porch – totally off the cuff out of scrap lumber. It still needs some sealant inside, a bottom shelf, casters so we can wheel it around the patio, paint, a coat of polyurethane, then I’ll fill it with the herbs and succulents that are now in some janky plastic pots.

Have a look at things coming out of our horrible car repair shop storm drain (drains to Mission Creek, I’m afraid)

heroic plumber

Meanwhile people were coming into the space and doing amazing mysterious things. Some 3-D printer stuff was happening, a guy showed up with a box of electronics stuff and god knows what he was up to, someone tried out sewing machines upstairs, a dude showed up with fancy lumber to build himself a desk –

One of the most hilarious interactions went like this, a dude riding by on a bike stopps & yells in, askking if we are open. Yes! Yes we are. “Do you have any electrical engineers here?” Yes probably. Maybe! What’s up. “Can I bring this, well, I have this BOX, I got it at an auction and it’s like, this 80s bullshit device that does something with your Aura, and electricity, and I want to know what it actually *does*.” Ok well how big is this box and can i just say right off, that you cannot leave it here but that does sound … hilarious” “It’s got a little carrying case! I can bring it and show it!” “Bring it a little later like 5 or 6pm when a lot more people will show up!” Hours later dude rolls up on his bike with a sort of thin suitcase and we all cluster round to see the 3-Part Body Charging Molecular Enhancer!!!! Hilarity ensues! It is several glass plates, a palm sized piece of hammered copper soldered to an amp lead, and some laminated instructions. Turns out we are missing the other 2 suitcases with the Transformer thing and the Bulb but the instructions were AMAZING.

diagram of molecular enhancer

I feel that some of the instructions are worth sharing with the world and you will have to imagine my dramatically reading them aloud, lingering suggestively on any mention of rubber or nooses in order to make TJ die inside.

How I Experiment with The 3 Part Body Charger

This is how I start and stop the machine so I don’t feel a zap of current when I start or shut it down.

1. I sit on a plastic chair (plastic does not conduct electricity) or
2. Sometimes I use our sofa. I cover the area I sit on with a kind of rubberized material or thick blanket that does not conduct electric. I remove my wrist watch.
3. I PLUG THE CORD INTO THE 110 WALL POWER SUPPLY I MAKE SURE THE MACHINE IS OFF
4. I place the aluminum & glass part (B) on a clean flat dry floor
5. I position the transformer part (A) as shown in Diagram
6. I place Bulb Part (C) in Foam on floor next to my chair.
7. I insert all 3 plugs in their proper sockets on back panel board as shown on diagram
8. I clean the soles of soles of my bare feet and place only the heels on the aluminum part of the glass plat
9. I tie the string of the Harness on the wire next to the bulb and secure the rubber around my neck this prevents the bulb from breaking if I should drop it.
10. I form a noose from the end of the starting cord and tie it on my right wrist.

Many lines or phrases in BOLD, ITALIC, in RED LETTERS, or ALL THREE with Suspiciously Weird Capitalization and yet a notably correct use of the subjunctive!

As near as I can tell this Molecular Enhancer is the equivalent of slowly licking a 2 volt battery. SADLY, Zach the neighbor on the bicycle only has 1 of the 3 part Body Charger. But we enjoyed this historical tour of someone’s absolutely crazed invention.

Justin Lazerbong brought me a very tasty burrito!

Briefly taught another young person how to use a power drill, left her to drill holes in the Obelisk, and I just kind of enjoyed being like “Here’s a power drill, hold it perpendicular, squeeze gently and get the feel of it , BYE” I think she had fun.

I also sent some innocents who had never done such a thing in their lives before, to a paint store to buy several kinds of paint, which reminded me of a similar good time when I yolo-ed to the e-waste center in my wheelchair trundling an enormous heavy bin on entirely inadequate casters 3 blocks down Capp St. with a fabulous young nerd named Wolf who had (I think) just shown up for the first time that day. Hello youngster we are going on a JOURNEY.

Among the things I gave away at the curb (post trash pickup) were: a pharoah costume in original packaging, cupcake decoration kit, many VHS tapes and DVDs, a bunch of weight lifting gizmos (which sadly, the owner of them showed up several hours later unexpectedly, oops, but noisebridge is not a gym, and they were in the trash pile but I felt bad as he was distressed and explained ot me that when programming, it was important to take breaks and do exercise to keep blood flowing to the brain – sorry dude) Some buckets, some more buckets, gnarly old pieces of lumber that had been in the rain and had nails sticking out, and some sandals. By this time the plumber (still snaking the horrible smelling patio drain out after 2 hours at it) was yelling out in a companionable way to passers by, “HAVE SOME FREE STUFF! YES ! FREE!! FUCK YEAH ITS FREE” unbending a bit from the beginning of the day when he was awkwardly calling me “Miss”.

I tweeted this afternoon to try and remember the fun stuff going on: https://twitter.com/lizhenry/status/1482455008507432963

This post is already too long but SO MANY THINGS HAPPENED and I met like, 20 people and got to hear all about their
projects and beam at them benevolently and share some cookies. And that is what I love about Noisebridge! But most of all I love the feeling of contributing something to society and this city, beyond my own private life, family, home, and job, together with other people.

Phrases stuck in my head

Sometimes rather than musical earworms I get particular words or phrases stuck in my head. Last night I woke up with the phrase “Overoles Chiriboga” sort of echoing around every few seconds. This was from a shop sign in downtown Quito, Ecuador, which struck me as both an interestingly resounding phrase and a very beautiful shop front, with a cool font and beautiful paint job.

I took a good photo of it, thankfully, so it isn’t just in my memory. I love the guy standing there with a lot of luggage, and how he is sort of hanging out with the mannequin.

That’s all – there is nothing much to say about this — maybe just a common poet’s curse and blessing — but because I can’t get it out of my head, now you can have it too.

storefront in quito

p.s. it fits perfectly with the Dead Kennedys “California Uber Alles”.

Call for stories of childhood games

I’m working on a zine (or maybe a small book) of people’s stories of games they made up as children. This can be a simple story or paragraph or two — or you can go into more detail.

Examples — in one vignette, I describe the rules of a game my sister and I would play that we called “Animal Wrestling”. In another, we get a true confession of what 4 year old me was pretending while in a bubble bath (alien planet; dome cities).

Email me your stories of home-brewed games – whether played solely in your imagination or with siblings/friends!

I miss the Before Times

For months I think of posting and then turn instead to a book or a game, Animal Crossing or Stardew Valley, endless fantasy and science fiction, mystery and romance novels. How to capture any of this? The feeling of the slide to fascism along with climate crisis after crisis. I’ve always said that my hope in life is to avoid living in a country with an active war going on around me, with a side bonus of continuing to have drinkable running water and electricity. Am I going to get to live out my life with those hopes fulfilled or what? The uncertainty on those points continues to grow. Are these, actually, still the Before Times, when we used to have it good, and we don’t know it yet? Horrors.

Work gave us an extra day off last Friday, just because of the stress of the pandemic and the wildfires and bad air. Since the air is so bad, more or less everywhere we could reach, and it was also 100 degrees out (no exaggeration) we spent the 4 day weekend opening the windows any time the air was either cooled off or below 50 on the air quality index, then shutting windows again and running all the air filters. I’m feeling my asthma all the time now with the tight chest and tense, anxious feeling that goes with it. Checking PurpleAir and various fire maps, checking my handheld air quality monitor many times a day inside and outside, taking more showers and cold baths, mopping the floor by skating around with bare feet on wet dishclothes to cool off the room.

I spent a day and a half doing geneology reserach and writing up a narrative of the lives of a great great great grandfather William and his family and then the same for his daughter, my great great grandmother Caroline Crane. You can see the family go from the early 1800s agricultural laborers in a very peaty, marshy bit of Lancashire near Garstang, to William in 1851 getting to go to school till around age 8, then being apprenticed a bit later to a tailor. He was moving on up; he was literate enough to write his name, while his father and grandfather were not. I traced his movements through 3 marriages; he lost his tailoring business and ended up in a brickyard, then as a navvy in a coal mine at Darcy Lever, where his oldest daughter married a collier, James Hutchinson.

This branch of the family was full of examples of both collier and spinner/weaver/comber/whatever in the mills. Whether mines or mills, some patterns emerged. Maybe some schooling up to age 8 or 9, gradually increasing to age 11 or 12 if you were lucky later in the century. A relatively idyllic looking time as a young adult in your own household with a family of young children — if anyone was in school, and if the woman of the house wasn’t in a mill, you were doing GREAT. Then relatives either start moving in as they age or their spouses or parents die, then a couple of decades later you are living in some other 30 year old relative’s house.

I was able to follow James and Caroline’s life in Lancashire for a while. Then in 1911 45 year old James was out of work, and emigrated to the U.S. along with a neighbor. They ended up in Rhode Island where a bunch of my family is from. James and Caroline brought up a great-aunt who I know, so they don’t feel very distant, though they both died before I was born.

After my historical journey I read a book from 1931 called Boy, by James Hanley, about a Lancashire dockworker’s son who is forced to leave school at age 13 by his family to be a dockworker himself. The jobs are horrible and the other teenage workers abusive. (SPOILER ALERT) He then stows away on a seagoing vessel where he becomes basically a slave of the crew, who mostly try to rape him or push him around. He agonizes about his future. Cheerily, he then get syphilis in Alexandria. The captain murders him and throws his body overboard. It was an amazingly written book and I’d say, emotionally stunning. New vow to read everything by James Hanley. But I felt the weekend of 100+ heat and no good air to breathe might be better faced with a more formulaic series….I then plowed through all eight romance novels about the Bridgerton siblings (one book per sibling) by Julia Quinn. They are too mainstream heterosexual for me to be honest but I can “bracket” that by rolling my eyes or some sort of mental magic and they were funny and cute enough to be fun to read. I would also like to complain about how this sort of sex scene is written but there’s no point, let’s just know that it’s completely alien to me and I feel deeply grateful that is so. Nearly ready now to return to the land of war, the ocean, gritty, miserable generational poverty and abuse, etc that James Hanley shall bring me.

Still playing Animal Crossing, and still at the end stage of Spiritfarer, with only Buck and Elena on my enormous boat now, more or less ready to have Stella and Daffodil go through the Everdoor, not without crying I’m sure.

The bright and lovely world

I remember coming out of the house to go to the doctor one time after being ill and house-bound for something like three weeks. The vibrant activity, movement, color, all the people and buses and trees and birds and signs, moved me to tears. I still think of that moment of epiphany every time I’m going on the bus down Mission Street and feel a surge of love.

I’m not feeling super well this week, still interviewing but at a somewhat slower pace as I am getting easily tired (and sporadically running a low fever – still unsure if it is vaccine side effects, just some sort of routine sinus trouble, or a mild case of the Rona.)

Our fridge broke and we had to throw a lot of food away; I got a used fridge from a handy appliance shop just one block from us. Four guys delivered it and took out the old fridge. I bleached all the counters, fridge, and door handles before they came in to protect them, and afterwards to protect me. And tipped high in cash. So appreciating their work. It was quite stressful considering the possibility of trying to get through the quarantine/statewide lockdown without refrigeration for our food. Very happy to now have a working fridge again!

Once I feel a bit better, I have some plans to further organize and clean out our little “office” section of the living room, and to slowly repot every plant on the front porch. Work on my BART game would be nice too and I have several zine and book projects, any of which would be fun to fire up again. (They have fallen by the way as I’ve been either obsessed with jobhunting, de-stressing from interviewing, reading coronavirus news, or destressing from that by like, reading and more game playing.)

Every day I have been running a Stardew Valley game for some kids of my friends and that is now a nice part of the structure of my day.

I highly recommend unlimiting your children’s “screen time” at least for now. Minecraft, Roblox, are good choices for social gaming (and can be played in creative mode for those who don’t like combat games).

Musings on fundamentally ableist assumptions

It isn’t a terrible thing, but a revealing thing, that when I give a short description of the game project I’m working on, and include that you can play a blind or Deaf/deaf person or wheelchair user, people tend to make several assumptions. That the game is about the experience of frustration or pain, about inaccessibility, about barriers. And, that it’s for able bodied people to develop understanding or empathy. I’ve gotten this response so many times that I’ve stopped being surprised. But, how odd!

The reason I’m writing these possible points of view in the game is so that I and other disabled/blind/deaf folks can feel some part of their own experience reflected. It’s a game with fantasy and magic and time travel, it’s about feeling connected to your local geography and history and people and having a sense of place in the world, with a bunch of goofy puzzles. It’s supposed to be fun and amusing. The wheelchair using point of view character might “notice” the bumpiness of pavement or need to use the elevator in train stations instead of the stairs. The blind character gets to use a little audio guide to the train station environs instead of looking at the murals and signs and maps. That’s about it! It’s so that we get to play a fun game without feeling jarred out of what would be our own experience, on some level, and get to feel the pleasure and validation of being represented.

It’s like assuming that a farming or spy game where you can choose your gender, is “for” men to understand women or NB people’s experience, and to show how frustrating it is to be a non-male farmer or assassin or whatever. No, it’s to play the game with a sense of identity that you want to play as, not to play a game about being constantly sexually harassed and shooting powerful lasers out of your boobs, though I’m sure that would be fun in the right context.

Reasons to like a song

My dad clipped out this article on the woman from “My Sharona” (who is indeed named Sharona) & mailed it to me. It’s been a while since my parents sent me newspaper clippings. It felt nice… Anyway he sent it because i liked that song and used to play the album, which was possibly the first album I bought with my own money, in 1980 (either that or the Freedom of Choice Devo album – I can’t remember).

I also named one of my Breyer model horses “Sharona”. It was a very beautiful one!

Here is the secret, which my dad may or may not know, as to why I liked the song. It was because my cat was named Motor and I could sing the line “Oooh you make my Motor run, my Motor run” and think of my adorable cat, who was named Motor because we lived in Detroit, my dad worked for Ford, and obviously because of loud purring (from reading the book The House of Thirty Cats, I took cat naming very very seriously. You have to name the cat something appropriate to its particular personality.)

I like the song M-bike by PJ Harvey for the exact same reason! Good chorus: “MOTOR! MOTOR!! MOTOR!!!”

I guess the new “sending clippings to your grown kids” is just sending tumblr memes over whatsapp since that what I do to mine.